Our Priority Funding Requests
Nationwide, during the pandemic, nearly 16,000 childcare programs permanently closed and 100,000 workers left the industry entirely. Utah’s child care industry would not have been able to survive the pandemic without $572 million in federal emergency dollars. However, that funding will end in June 2024.
Even before the pandemic, Utah had a 65% gap between the need for child care and the capacity of programs to provide it. People in the child care sector fear this number will drop even lower when that money is gone, warning us that Utah faces an even more dire child care crisis in the next two years. Our priority funding requests included four programs that will be eliminated without support from the state.
Child Care Stabilization Grants, Rep. Andrew Stoddard
Federal Child Care Stabilization Grants have been a lifeline for Utah's child care sector. This funding would have allowed for a one-year extension of the stabilization grants currently received by hundreds of licensed child care providers in Utah. The grants will be reduced in October 2023 and will end in June 2024. Child care providers have indicated that the lack of ongoing stabilization funding will result in one or more of the following three outcomes: child care programs will close, tuition will be raised for families, and/or employees will have lower wages, resulting in staff turnover, program closure, and underutilization of licensed child care slots. Heard in the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on 1/24/23.
Requested: $216 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED
Retention Incentives for Early Childhood Professionals, Rep. Luz Escamilla
In 2022, Utah's Office of Child Care issued $2,000 bonuses to eligible workers serving in child care positions to provide recognition for their critical work throughout the COVID pandemic and to improve retention within the field. This funding request would have allowed for the continuation of this incentive program for an additional two years, while structural reforms of the sector are pursued. This funding was intended to increase child care worker retention statewide among licensed child care providers and prevent program closures that will negatively impact Utah families. Additionally, this funding would have helped child care settings to remain fully staffed to accommodate as many children as state licensing permits. Approximately 9,500 child care professionals would have receive retention incentives through this program. Heard in the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on 2/3/23.
Requested: $38 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED
Regional Child Care Development Grants, Rep. Ashlee Matthews ($2.1 Million)
Both rural and urban Utah communities are suffering from a lack of child care. Through federal funding, Utah's six Regional Care about Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies have supported new programs for rural outreach, small business training, start-up grants, and professional development. Some agencies have hired outreach coordinators while others have created business training cohorts. This funding would have continued the grants for another three years so agencies could continue offering programming that works to expand child care access and improve care. Heard in the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on 1/20/23.
Requested: $2.1 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED
Child Care Licensing-Related Fees, Rep. Ashlee Matthews ($3 Million)
With COVID-relief funding the Office of Child Care Licensing has waived the costs associated with licensing in order to lessen the barriers to expanding, maintaining, and opening new child care programs. This funding would have extended this fee coverage for another three years as the state tackles the child care crisis. This funding helps reduce the cost burden on regulated child care providers, those renewing licenses, and those seeking a license to start a child care business. With much of Utah being a child care desert, this funding will promote growth in the market by lessening the barriers for these small business owners. Making licensure affordable also promotes safer learning environments. Heard in the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on 1/20/23.
Requested: $3 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED
Other Child Care Initiatives
Child Care Solutions and Workforce Productivity Plan, Sen. Luz Escamilla
A priority of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity’s Women in the Economy Subcommittee, these funds will support strategic planning for child care solutions.
House Bill 167: State Child Care, Rep. Ashlee Matthews & Sen. Luz Escamilla
This bill provides the framework for State agencies to convert empty state buildings to on-site child care. It will allow private providers to rent the space and operate from the facility, creating greater access to child care for employees and the greater community.
House Bill 170: Child Tax Credit Revisions, Rep. Susan Pulsipher & Sen. Daniel McCay
This bill provides a non-refundable yearly tax credit of $1,000 per child between the ages of 1-3 for families making up to $43,000 for single filers and $54,000 for households filing married jointly. Because the bill’s original intent was to help with the cost of child care, we’d like to see this expanded to help children ages 0-6, as it did in the original bill. This legislation makes Utah the 13th state with its very own state child tax credit.
Outcome: AMENDED VERSION PASSED
House Bill 282: Child Care Sales Tax Exemption, Rep. Christine Watkins
This bill would have allowed for a sales and use tax exemption for construction materials used to construct or expand a child care program.
Outcome: BILL NEVER HEARD IN COMMITTEE
While our policy wins feel small, it was a stellar year for child care advocacy. We hosted our first Child Care Advocacy Day, where we welcomed over 100 parents, kiddos, providers, and supporters of child care in Utah’s Capitol Rotunda! The turnout far surpassed expectations and we hosted many new faces. We look forward to continuing to grow our network of child care advocates and working on solutions to child care during the interim.